Each year, businesses all over the world attempt to create an essential goal to generate more success than the year before—a solid and effective marketing strategy.

And each year, despite the best of intentions, many—arguably, most—brands fail. Why? Many organizations overlook core elements key to a marketing strategy—or they leave them out entirely.

Going back to basics can often seem like a waste of time when a brand has been gaining some success with marketing efforts, but trends change. Consumer desires change. The tools we use to market more effectively change, too, along with the technology that makes it all happen.

And the content development matrix required to create and track marketing assets that deliver a unique customer experience for each buyer persona is increasingly complex.

When it comes to making dream sales numbers a reality, it may be time to revisit the core elements of your marketing strategy. It can make the difference between the same old incremental boosts and creating a core foundation that provides rocket fuel to marketing efforts like never before.

Build a Marketing Foundation on Customer Experience Data

Tracking how a customer moves from stage to stage throughout the buyer’s journey is what leads the charge for an effective marketing plan, hands down. Guiding customers from unaware web surfers to mature buyers is much easier now that there’s data insights to pinpoint. Of course, this allows you to deliver the right piece of content to a customer depending on their interest level.

But remember, too many channels dilutes the message and effectiveness of your strategy.

To refresh, or brush up marketing know-how, look through these must-haves for a marketing plan checklist. They’ll help your team focus their attention on the foundational elements of a solid marketing plan and ensure they’re building a framework that works.

1. Context Is Key: The Where and to Whom of Marketing Content

It sounds simple: you need a clear plan of what content to create, where to send it, and to whom. Basic marketing, right? Truth is, a target audience is no longer a generic label. It’s made of up specific buyer personas each with unique desires and combinations of needs. The product or service a brand sells needs to be packaged in a way that’s a fit for specific markets and the segments within them—and a unique marketing strategy and content delivery plan to match.

Taking marketing back to its roots is what enables brands to fine-tune marketing efforts. It’s also the most effective path to delivering a consistent, on-point customer experience in a more agile way. Marketing teams often spin their wheels at this stage if they don’t have clearly segmented target audiences laid out from the start. This planning is what provides the content context for all marketing, whether it’s a big picture focus or several mini marketing initiatives throughout the year ahead.

2. Know Thyself, Know Thy Assets

In a big organization, it’s easy for employees to lose sight of how cornerstone content and marketing assets are connected to the big-picture marketing strategy. Different teams work on different parts to get things done and may get a bit siloed in their focus. Teams might also refer to the same aspects of marketing using different terminology. Any confusion or disconnect about these elements within the organization then trickles down to customers.

To ensure things stay in alignment, start simple. Keep a tight ring of communication going among teams, and clarify how their specific efforts tie to a larger marketing initiative. Create a shared, easy-to-access worksheet that keeps teams informed, and clarifies key terminology that you’ll use throughout the project. This saves time and keeps communication efforts clear.

Using templates to highlight key pieces of information can be a helpful approach to take important details from documentation into strategy. Teams are then able to create content that carries out the strategy seamlessly while staying on-point—with room to be flexible as needed.

3. Clear, Multi-Purpose Taxonomy Wins the Prize

There’s nothing more frustrating for teams than having tons of content assets with no clear purpose nor any idea of how they fit within the buyer’s journey.

Instead of using generic labels for content assets, make them count. Create strategic keyword tags that provide context for each asset and how they tie into the bigger marketing initiative for the brand. Keep in mind how each term can reflect something important about the targeted buyer persona.

A great side effect of using clear, purposeful taxonomy is improved productivity, reduction in duplicated work, and a streamlined workflow that creates clear, useful communication between team members with greater ease. It also drives data reporting, highlighting what pieces are working in the context of the buyer’s journey for each buyer persona.

4. Create Useful Brand Standards for Workflow

It’s easy to say a better workflow process will help elevate our marketing strategy. But it’s another thing entirely to create useful standards for workflows that are repeatable and make a difference in how everyone within the marketing mix manages their key tasks. The challenge is knowing where to start without feeling overwhelmed.

For example, if you create initiatives before you generate a creative brief, it’s much harder to align them effectively. The same goes for building a creative brief without clear objectives of what you want to achieve.

To craft more consistent marketing initiatives that follow the same map, clearly identify what aspects of the process need to be completed each and every time. Workflow standards also help brands stay on message more consistently and enable them to hit all of the must-haves in a marketing strategy.

When teams understand their part in the workflow—and how it ties into the bigger picture—team members feel more of a sense of ownership and connection to the success of all marketing efforts.

5. Brands Are Only as Good as Their Data Tools

With all the previous elements in place, content is going out at the right time to the right folks. The bigger question is, does it make a difference?

  • Are open rates where they should be?
  • Are content assets converting in expected ways?
  • Are there tools in play that measure what you really want to know about site and content asset traffic?
  • Is the functionality a fit for what needs to be measured and how often you do so?
  • Can you take daily data insights and make tweaks to delivery or content to improve performance?

The only way to know the answers to these and other questions is to have systems in place that analyze the data coming in so you understand what it all means. Without the right tools to track data in a way that supports overall content and sales goals—and knowing what that data reflects in context—brands miss out on pairing content and marketing strategy as a powerful dynamic duo.

At the end of the day, brands need to build a strategy that delivers incrementally and as a whole network of interconnected pieces. They need to be able to see the big picture, add to it step by step from an individual customer perspective, then monitor the process daily. This is the easiest way to stay current, agile, and on-point with the foundations of marketing strategy. Create a living, breathing document that supports your vision and mission.

A great way to do all that is by modifying templates or cheat sheets to keep your marketing strategy focused through every stage. Is it time to explore templates to help your marketing strategy really take off?

Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.